Meg Kearney: is she the victim?

Here is the Franz Wright letter generating all the controversy:

Meg Kearney, in response to your invitation, insinuating I would like the writing program at Pine Manor: you have to be shitting me—have I not made it clear that MFA programs have turned poetry into an occupation and a joke—have weakened american poetry, have desecrated it into artifact instead of a result of a soul’s progress in solitary devotion. You have turned it into one more subject in a university or college or private scam operation like yours. Everyone from no talent unknowns to Chs Simic, C Wright, Levine, Strand, etc (those magnificently promising poets born in the late twenties and thirties who sold their souls to the deans for an upper middle class lifestyle —phony radicals, hypocrites all, like Carolyn Forche, live in a luxury unimaginable to the human beings they play act solidarity with can make it if you imitate whatever ephemeral bullshit is hip at the moment —a real writer has always sought solitude, not group therapy…Those writing programs have lowered the bar so far down anyone can trip over it and get a degree and consider themselves A MASTER AT THE ART OF POETRY at 24 (a feat previously achieved in English only by Keats, H. Crane…any MFA subdoormat poet, like Melanie Braverman, by being a nice mommie can succeed at a school like Brandeis because real talent means nothing now—a business sense plus niceness is all…and the actual talent there, Olga Broumas,  who sold herself for health insurance maybe fifteen years ago, has not published a book since her collected, RAVE, in 1999, a disaster. How many actual poets can one generation, even a standout one produce?  We now have more writers than readers of poetry, we have ACADEMIC POETS AS THE GREAT ASPIRATION OF 21 YEAR OLD KNOW-NOTHINGS, the very enslavement real writers have been fleeing forever: you have only to picture Rimbaud or Blake in a writing workshop, they’d be out of this absurd scene (lovely line breaks, Billie) ready to slip into harness, ready to desecrate the art they claim to love and their own soul their own minds & hearts, —and YOU all get the dough. Think of the state of the soul and just cut it out. You can still choose. Franz Wright

The general response to FW’s letter has been, predictably, ‘oh how mean!’ or this one from Diane Seuss:

it’s a Republican view, yours, isn’t it, exclusivist, backward-gazing­, nostalgic for a time when there were three great men sucking at poetry’s tit-sack and not a million…

Actually, we think Franz Wright’s response is extremely fine: he goes out of his way to explain why he is refusing Meg Kearney’s invitation, instead of just saying, no.  It’s really a positive: a Pulitzer-prize winner taking the time to express his deeply-felt opinion on an issue he considers vital to poetry.

We cannot help but notice that every Franz-basher ignores the simple truth of what he says.

MFA programs have turned poetry into an occupation…one more subject in a university…a private scam operation like yours

Simic, C. Wright, Levine, Strand…sold their souls to the deans for an upper middle class lifestyle

phony radicals, hypocrites

a real writer has always sought solitude not group therapy

writing programs have lowered the bar so far down anyone can trip over it and get a degree and consider themselves Master at the Art of Poetry at 24 (a feat achieved in English previously only by Keats, H. Crane)

any MFA subdoormat poet, like Melanie Braverman, by being a nice mommie can succeed at a school like Brandeis because real talent means nothing now—a business sense plus niceness is all

Olga Broumas sold herself for health insurance maybe fifteen years ago

How many poets can one generation, even a standout one, produce?

We now have more writers than readers of poetry

We have Academic Poets as the great aspiration for 21 year old no-nothings

picture Rimbaud or Blake in a writing workshop

this absurd scene and YOU get all the dough

Think of the state of the soul and just cut it out

These are perfectly legitimate grievances, and there’s quite a lot of material, and some of it quite well said, and if these things are true, they are quite important, and really should be addressed.  Are they true?  Well, they are the opinion of Mr. Wright, and stand up as that, and anyone should be able to see their “free speech” aspect is more important than their “ill-mannered” aspect.

If poetry is being so badly taught  in MFA programs that poetic expression is being irreversibly harmed and students scammed, who better to address the issue than a Pulitzer-prize winning poet?  Who else is going to blow the whistle?  The teachers, the programs, the schools themselves?  We understand “scam” is a strong word—but if seen in the context of critical judgment (rather than a cruder accusation of outright scamming) the charge, we think, is maintainable.

Wright’s point is based on the fact that poetry is not something that anyone can learn in a few years.

A little poetry knowledge is a dangerous thing if bad poetry taught badly does delude and harm people.

The issue is pedagogical, and it certainly can be argued that teaching poetry is not value-neutral, but harmful if not done right, and therefore Wright’s warning should not be simply dismissed on the count of ‘bad manners.’  One can disagree with Wright about the worth of Keats v. Kearney, but if his opinion is correct, what he has to say is  important and useful.

Let’s take a look at a poem by Meg Kearney:


I suppose squirrels have their hungers, too,
like the one I saw today with the ass end of a mouse
jutting from its mouth. I was in the park;
I’d followed the stare of a dog, marveled
as the dog seemed to marvel that the squirrel
didn’t gag on the head, gulped so far down
that squirrel’s throat nearly all that was visible
was the grey mouse rump, its tail a string
too short to be saved. The dog and I couldn’t
stop gawking. The squirrel looked stunned himself —
the way my ex, The Big Game Hunter, looked
when I told him I was now a vegetarian.
We’d run into each other at a street fair
in Poughkeepsie. The hotdog he was eating
froze in his hand, pointed like a stubby finger,
accused me of everything I’d thought
I’d wanted, and what I’d killed to get it.

This poem opens with vagueness, “I suppose squirrels have their hungers, too,” and it just gets worse.  Line 7’s “that squirrel’s throat” gives the mistaken impression the poet is calling the squirrel of the poem”Squirrel,” as if it were a cartoon (Rocky and Bullwinkle?).  All those “I’ds?”  Horrendous.  The poet reading a dog’s thoughts is ridiculous, and the preachy vegetarian angle involving the ex (who is stunned like the squirrel??) and the hotdog forces not only a moral down our throats, but an entire ugly poem, stretching to make its point.  Is the poet trying to make the reader gag?  I can see the anthology: Poems That Make Us Vomit.  Or: Poets Who Really Hate Their Ex.

So here’s the problem.  Meg Kearney’s poem is not accomplished.  It’s poor writing.  Should we be paying for this, or paying for this kind of thing to be taught?

So Franz Wright may certainly be ill-mannered in this instance, but in terms of aesthetics and pedagogy, he may just be right.



  1. Alan Cordle said,

    November 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I have many unformulated thoughts here. What the hell . . . here they are, in no particular order: 1. I know and like Meg Kearney. She is also my Facebook friend. 2. I don’t know Franz Wright, but think he’s bonkers and generally a jerk. I have no doubt he’s lived a life of privilege. He is my Facebook “friend” too. 3. I laughed when I saw FB friend/not friend in real life, Robert Wrigley’s post about unfriending FW. The former is still friends with Ted Genoways, for god’s sake. He’s a hell of a lot meaner AND he may have been responsible for someone’s suicide. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 21, 2012 at 3:57 am

      Hi Al,
      Franz is doing everyone a favor by speaking his mind. Why ‘unfriend’ that? This is Shakespearean. Franz is at the court of King Lear and refuses to flatter—and so is tossed into the cold. People are unable to stop the creeps like Ted Genoways, because they think the world is comprised of either decorous people (good) or ‘really, really outspoken’ people (bad) (Franz, Alan ‘Foetry’ Cordle).

  2. Dawn Potter said,

    November 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Alan, I’m glad you wrote. I don’t know Franz Wright, but I know and love Meg Kearney. Like Franz, I have also been a guest teacher at the MFA program she directs. Like Franz, I don’t have an MFA myself and am extremely ambivalent about their value. For instance, getting an MFA does not mean that you’re a good teacher. Yet the opportunity to teach in an MFA program is most often limited to people with MFAs. In this way, Meg has does a great service to those of us writer-teachers without them: she hires us; she helps us feed our families. Do I nonetheless struggle with the concept of the programs themselves? Yes, indeed. Yet I like to teach. So when I get the opportunity to work with students, should I turn it down for moral reasons? What are those moral reasons: that I’m not convinced that paying money for a degree will turn them into Shelley? Does any teacher teach because he or she believes his students will become Newton or Faraday? Of course not. Just because these MFA students won’t be Shelley doesn’t mean that they won’t become richer, more thoughtful human beings after their immersion in the program. Nor should I be ashamed to admit that I need to get paid occasionally in order to keep being able to write. What I’m saying here is that there’s no straightforward answer and that in many ways Meg has done a service to those of us outside the academic mainstream by taking us seriously as poets and teachers.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    November 21, 2012 at 3:47 am


    The issue isn’t just the MFA students and Shelley. The goal is not to make students into Shelley, but to foster an appreciation of Shelley by everyone. This can be done with English Departments who teach Shelley. Teach a critical appreciation of Shelley and then let students go forth and become poets, if they wish, but always taking seriously—or not—that standard of excellence set by Shelley. So the real issue here, the 300 pound guerilla in the room the MFA programs would like to ignore is: the MFA program is the rival of the old English degree—which taught poetry. Both ‘teach poetry,’ but the MFA replaces the Shelley standard with the ‘contemporary’ standard. Shelley’s old, but you can teach Shelley; you can’t teach someone ‘to be contemporary’ because the ‘contemporary’ is default and has no value, no definition, by its very nature—and this is precisely (if we are honest) what the MFAs sell—the teacher poet and the student poets becoming fake Shelleys by rejecting Shelley and embracing whatever happens to be contemporary, that is, Meg Kearney recalling a squirrel she saw and recalling that her ex was eating a hot dog when she told him she had become a vegetarian. You can’t teach Kearney’s memory. And if you can’t teach it, then your MFA is a lie—it’s just people writing their memories in dubious prose; people’s memories will always exist and always be expressed with, or without the MFA. The ex with the hot dog and the squirrel with the mouse in its mouth do not even belong together. What standard is exemplified in the Kearney poem? Nothing but personalized average writing. So if this is the basis of the default contemporary subject, then the MFA is vanity—a deep vanity. The Shelley may be vanity, too, but at least it is a standard that can be taught. If ‘teaching poetry’ is the bottom line, then Franz is right. You sit in a classroom and are exposed to Shelley and this happens to you, alone—you do not have to flatter Shelley, or even write as Shelley, or even like Shelley—you are taught Shelley and your soul is intact after the experience. MFA group-think is a completely different animal.


    • Dawn Potter said,

      November 22, 2012 at 5:03 am

      My subject was not Meg’s writing. My subject was her job as as an administrator. Sometimes she hires people without MFAs to teach there. I have been one of those people. So has Franz Wright. I don’t know what Franz talked about in his class, but I talked about John Milton, and Meg gave me that opportunity. It depresses me beyond belief to imagine that you might be insinuating that this was a waste of time.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm

        I have nothing against you teaching Milton and Meg giving you the opportunity to teach Milton. But who is asking the hard questions about “immersion” in the MFA program–which, let’s face it, is not about teaching Milton, or teaching anything, really. The vanity of contemporary poets teaching would-be-poets in an atmosphere without critical standards is dangerous–it drives people into debt, lowers standards, demolishes the classics, gives insiders too much opportunity to advance themselves merely by connections alone, and turns off the population at large. The difference between writing and writing that is taught–or ought to be taught, or ought not to be taught, is the crux of the matter, the whole crucial issue, and honesty on it is key. Is Franz pedagogically correct? That’s the question. His politeness is not the issue. Poe, by the way, also was a master by 24; his 1831 Poems was published when Poe was 22. If we do learn by imitation and not by process, we’re in trouble, because imitation of the classics is frowned upon as not truly creative. If you show up at an MFA program imitating Milton, you’ll be thrown out on your ear. But if you write memories of squirrels, you’ll be encouraged, because it’s your memory. But important original writing has nothing to with one’s memories–which is default and automatic–but what we do with them, and if ‘what we do with them’ cannot be taught, it begs the question: what exactly is going on here?

        • Dawn Potter said,

          November 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          To reiterate: I do not have an MFA. You don’t need to talk me into sharing your views–or Mr. Wright’s views–about the problems with these programs. Yes, a system now exists that makes many of us uncomfortable and, at times, wild with anger. Nonetheless, here it is, and here we are, those of us who happen to not be very good insurance executives but who do know how to teach and who are trying to figure out how to negotiate a livelihood in this disturbing landscape. Meg may direct one of those programs but she also is one of the few program directors who goes out of her way to take poets without MFAs seriously. This by no means solves the endemic issues that exist with the system. It is, however, a gesture of goodwill and solidarity that I value.

          • thomasbrady said,

            November 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

            Thanks, Dawn. I appreciate your input. MFAs need non-MFA help and that makes sense if the MFA is comprised of nothing but a seminar table. Let’s add a little Milton, if we can. Sure. You and Meg were able to help each other. And this stands apart from a critique of MFAs.

  4. RB said,

    November 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I know nothing much of Franz Wright or Meg Kearney, but teach in a writing program and can’t disagree with a lot of what he says regarding poetry (which I do not teach). I do see the growing “earth-mother school of poetry” here, where our line of female faculty poets, other than publishing a handful of poems in small journals (no books), seem to compensate for this lack of writerly success by being the students’ (these being mostly female) girlfriend, confidante, secret-keeper (a now departed “poetry-Mom” here took one girl to go have her abortion, possibly crossing what I view as appropriate faculty-student interaction) and champion, even when these students don’t write well and show little true passion for the art. Poetry seems to draw more students who enter out of some self-obssession that oddly dovetails with the Facebook “micro celebrity” premise. Call it the BFF school of poetry, in which all experience is equally valid, no writing can be questioned, and the idea of teaching writing becomes oddly subverted.
    Meanwhile, my female colleagues outside of poetry seem to avoid such behavior altogether. At least in fiction and nonfiction, there is some notion of a market, and a real readership, and therefore a notion of what is “good” and “not good.” That seems to keep things on a more professional level. Wright is correct that there are more poets than readers of poetry; I’d further say the only readers of poetry seem to be other poets these days.
    I wish Wright had written an essay rather than a Facebook rant, though; there’s something deeply unsettling about a Pulitzer-winning ‘wordsmith” writing “no-nothing.”

    • noochinator said,

      November 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      In our present-day culture
      It’s a feast for the vulture,
      For at school and at work
      There is one constant quirk:
      The need for self-disclosure,
      To give one’s soul exposure,
      As if colleagues were friends !
      This makes problems without ends.
      A far better way to go:
      Keep behind a “window”,
      During the school or work day—
      I’ve learned this the hard way!

  5. thomasbrady said,

    November 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm


    “Facebook micro celebrity” premise—yes, I like that.

    Also interesting how a “market” seems to be the antidote to the “BFF school of poetry,” naturally giving a Leftist, anti-capitalist tenor to the Poetry MFA participants, even as the MFA is clearly a business model. Enough internal contradictions to drive one crazy. Wright’s “solitude” would also be anti-market, I imagine; but if there’s no “market” for the lone poet outside the MFA, what’s that poet got? A future market, like Emily Dickinson selling lots of books?


  6. Chaty Lorens said,

    November 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Well now, there must be more than one way to skin a poet. I understand Franz Wright’s concerns, though not his tantrum, and though I too might long for a Golden Age of Poetry—though golden may only have been so for those who could see yellow, as Jarrell might have said—I’m afraid we may be dreaming that we are dreaming again. It seems a bit of a rancid argument and reminds me of the petty upheavals on the Western Cannon and the School of the Ages or some such: this need to “define” rationally what is not possible of rational definition, to decaffeinate metaphysics, indeed to cartographie (sic) taste and eternal remembrance. None of it is possible, manageable or doable. This is poetry and though there may be limited ways by which we can suture a scar, there are countless ways to turn a phrase. What is poetry after all? And who is a poet? And who will remember?

    I understand this need to define, but don’t see clear, definable outcomes. I don’t advocate a free-for-all—I’m with you here and cannot defend Meg Kearny’s squirrel poem (surely she must have done something else, worthy, I respectfully do no t know)—yet, like pornography I presume we cannot tell poetry until see it. Do MFA programs dictate the poetic taste of the land? Are they traps for the unwary or the wannabes? Probably so, but should it disturb us?

    I turn here to Santayana: “Beauty as we feel it is something indescribable; what it is and what it means can never be said.” Does this mean that we have no way to give Shelley his credit or to decry a “squirrel of a poem” when we see one? I not only think that we can—as we have done here—but it will always be so. Naiveté? Ok, I’ll grant you that, but nothing else will take us away from our differences in taste and our understanding of beauty. Funny, these poetry wars, like cotton candy missiles.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      When is a poem for friends and when is a poem for the nation, is the question–and perhaps more importantly, for school. Writing a poem for your lover is legitimate, but even more legitimate–and here’s the rub–is getting that poem for your lover into a textbook, for once the poet is taught in school, fame is assured. This is what the battle is about, finally. (Shallow) social convention is always more important than we want it to be, but then vanity is real and needs to be managed so it doesn’t make fools of us all in the end, gagging on the hunger of squirrels and mean exes. The convention is that Shakespeare and Shelley didn’t come to the school; the school came to them–after they were dead. This is what Franz is talking about. Today, the poets are all coming to the school (the MFA) and teaching each other, in a spirit of friendly exchange, with one eye on the fame schools might provide them. The ‘slippery slope’ here is that schools will never go to Shakespeare again, will never want to go to Shakespeare again, will never recognize Shakespeare again, and therefore Shakespeare will never exist again because ten thousand Meg Kearneys delighting friends will crowd out the lone artist writing for the nation. Not only has the future Shakespeare no chance but Shakespeare himself is slowly being eradicated, because for all the talk that poetry cannot be defined, we do know great poetry when we see it, and Shakespeare dwarfs Meg Kearney to the extent that Meg Kearney, the poet, doesn’t want Shakespeare, the poet, around. The whole issue is three-fold: it involves judgment, pedagogy, but is completely driven by vanity.

      • Chaty Lorens said,

        November 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm

        That is a valid criticism, Tom, but it is just that: a criticism (or wishful thinking). I don’t think we can (purposely) define the taste by which we are to be judged canonically anymore than we can (purposely) create originality and true poetic power—that of Shakespeare or Shelley. They will be read, indeed they are read, way beyond Meg Kearny (and I apologize to her for making her the example). Most respectfully, she remains—as most of us—mere commas in a Shakespearean play or in Wordsworth’s “Prelude”, for that matter. Popularity in this true poetic sense means nothing, for

        Through the unheeding many he did move,
        A splendour among shadows, a bright blot
        Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove
        For truth, and like the Preacher found it not.

        • thomasbrady said,

          November 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm

          Intellectually, you are right. And yet…twenty thousand Kearneys versus Shelley may be an even fight, and one that’s worth fighting, with, again, all due respect to Kearney, the person. But if just one person chooses Kearney because “she’s a woman” or because “she’s new,” and thereby loses out on Shakespeare or Shelley, that’s one too many. Poems are not like washing machines…the newest poem is not automatically better, and I think many today while not admitting that the newest poem is automatically better, unconsciouisly (or professionally) behave very much as if this were, in fact, the case. Many, many, in fact, and most of them in institutions, behave so. Shakspeare wrote plays, so he’s a little safer, just for that reason. The living old must be loved by the living new or the old will die. Shadows have fallen over past worth before.


  7. Briggs Seekins said,

    November 22, 2012 at 12:49 am

    I don’t think anybody can really deny that Wright is kind of a crank, but it seems to me that there was a time period when poets were sort of given some forgiveness for being cranks…especially if they were arguably one of the few important poets writing.

    But now we are in the era of the MFA, which, as Tom points out, is itself a business model. The business modeled is something very closely related to multi-level marketing. But I think “BFF School of Poetry” is probably the best line I’ve ever heard for it. Even here on Scarriet, two of the first comments stop to point out how nice this Meg lady is, and one of the comments is even by Alan Cordle, the heavyweight champion of taking down Poetry Nice-Nicing.

    In that kind of atmosphere, Wrights’ slightly crabby and more or less on point assessment of the situation is received as hate speech.

    That one woman who criticized him for being a Republican! That’s some of the funniest crap I’ve heard out of a liberal intellectual in a long time.

  8. DrMartinaBilkinsPhD said,

    November 22, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Carolyn Forche really gets under my skin too…

    American poetry is a fucking wasteland, with a handful of exceptions, like Wright. But the BFF machine will keep pumping! Such nice people. Very very nice.

  9. DrMartinaBilkinsPhD said,

    November 22, 2012 at 2:48 am

    This Meg Kearney poem would be just great if it was Julia Dreyfus playing a poet in a third rate indie movie about how awful third rate neoliberal academics were.

    I suppose squirrels have their hungers too…

  10. marcusbales said,

    November 23, 2012 at 2:28 am

    On Some Contemporary American Poets

    Their writing employs all the virtues of prose
    With no meter, no music, no clef;
    They pose in black clothes with a rose, which just shows
    That they’re mutes mouthing off to the deaf.

    The deaf cannot hear what the mute cannot call,
    Though their writings are earnestly made:
    They sprawl in their scrawl, and yet all they enthrall
    Is each other who’ve been MFA’d.

    The deaf cannot hear what the mute cannot speak
    Though their voices be wild as the Sidhe —
    Though they freak out and shriek for a weekend in Greek
    Asserting they’re free, free, free, free,

    The mute cannot speak, and the deaf cannot hear,
    Though they’ve tried it since free verse began:
    They’re sincere, they revere their career – and it’s clear
    That they’re doing the best that they can.

    • DrMartinaBilkinsPhD said,

      November 25, 2012 at 5:13 am

      You wouldn’t know what art was if it shat on your face.

      Which it should, often.

      • marcusbales said,

        December 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm

        Anonymous Troll

        You’re the dog
        That chews my laces
        You’re a cog
        That no gap embraces
        You’re the sloppy song when a broken bong
        Won’t draw;
        You’re a windshield chip, you’re a bitten lip,
        A petty flaw.
        You’re a troll
        You’re a party-pooper
        You’re a troll
        You’re a drunken stupor
        We’re thought-provoking, serious, joking, droll —
        But you can’t get our goat ‘cause you’re a troll.

        You’re the fear
        At the start of classes
        You’re a smear
        On my just-cleaned glasses
        You’re the icky news that brings the blues
        To stay
        You’re spamming and phishing, and we’re all wishing
        You’ll go away.
        You’re a troll
        You’re a blown-out tire
        You’re a troll
        You’re an off-key choir
        A conversation, not aggravation’s our goal –
        But you can’t get our goat ‘cause you’re a troll.

        You’re the knot
        In our garden hoses
        You’re the snot
        From allergic noses
        You’re the pimp or madam who serviced Saddam
        You’re an intern’s salary, the trans-fat calorie
        We disdain.
        You’re a run
        In a nylon stocking
        You’re the one
        That I’m not done mocking
        We don’t like whining, and you’re undermining the whole —
        But you can’t get our goat ‘cause you’re a troll.

        You’re the tart
        In between the lovers
        You’re a fart
        Underneath the covers
        You’re an incomplete, a crumpled sheet,
        A wad,
        You’re an empty can, a hollow man,
        A fraud.
        You’re a clog
        In the bathroom piping
        You’re that dog
        On the internet typing
        Misunderstandings of the second-handings you stole.
        But you can’t get our goat ‘cause you’re a troll.

        • Nicholas, Esquire said,

          December 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

          I’m glad you’re busying yourself writing the opposite of the truth on the internet. Nice tune, though. Good luck, IRL troll.

        • Nicholas, Esquire said,

          December 4, 2012 at 11:52 am

          Lara Glenum, Joshua Clover, all of you – are mentally ill and extremely ugly people. SAD..

          • Nicholas, Esquire said,

            December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

            You’re the TART between the lovers…either that or you are insanely MISINFORMED…

            • Nicholas, Esquire said,

              December 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

              Or wait, let me guess it’s one of the hags,,, what’s her name? nada?? it must be…because we then know where the gross misinformation and bile comes from (besides herself).

              Have fun, kids.

              • Nicholas, Esquire said,

                December 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

                You’re all such complete and utter morons and phonies.

                • Nicholas, Esquire said,

                  December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

                  All of you – misogynist creeps like kent–pigs, hags, phonies, and half-wits

        • December 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm

          Sugar in the Cane

          Tennessee Williams

          I’m red pepper in a shaker,
          Bread that’s waitin’ for the baker.
          I’m sweet sugar in the cane,
          Never touched except by rain.
          If you touched me God save you,
          These summer days are hot and blue.

          I’m potatoes not yet mashed,
          I’m a check that ain’t been cashed.
          I’m a window with a blind,
          Can’t see what goes on behind.
          If you did, God save your soul!
          These winter nights are blue and cold!

          • Nicholas, Esquire said,

            December 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

            You’re a fascist, a bigot, a stalker, a wanna-be – and a drunk mentally ill creep worming your way through the internet brainwashing people with memes and quotes.

          • Nicholas, Esquire said,

            December 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm

            Furthermore, you are not loved.


            • Nicholas, Esquire said,

              December 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm

              But I’m not going to worry anymore about fascist pigs taking advantage of and exploiting ill people. I’ve had enough.

              • Nicholas, Esquire said,

                December 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

                And don’t you DARE fucking insult my intelligence, you middle class academic piece of dog shit. Every essay you’ve ever written is an insufferable hack job, and you’ve never written a serious poem in you life. I very much doubt you ever will.

          • December 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm

            Lonesome Man

            Tennessee Williams

            My chair rock-rocks by the door all day
            But nobody ever stops my way,
            Nobody ever stops by my way.
            My teef chaw-chaw on an old ham bone
            An’ I do the dishes all alone,
            I do the dishes all by my lone.
            My feet clop-clop on the hardwood floor
            ‘cause I won’t buy love at the hardware store,
            I don’t want love from the mercantile store.
            Now the clock tick-tocks by my single bed
            While the moon looks down at my sleepless head,
            While the moon grins down at an ole fool’s head.

            • ApartheidSupportSupport said,

              December 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm

              Lara, you’ve never been as beautiful and graceful as me one day in your life.

              No man in his right mind would be with your crazy, repugnantly smug, fat ass. So keep having pretend relationships online….

        • LadyGagaSupport said,

          December 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm

          • ApartheidSupportSupport said,

            December 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    • Sidhe O'Clanahan said,

      May 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      I love this poem by Mr. Bales ! Encore, encore…

  11. Mark said,

    December 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    It’s a dark day when I have to agree with both Franz Wright and Tom Graves… This is a good ‘un, though.

    Maybe this marks a turning point for Scarri… oh nevermind: I just read the two most recent articles 😛


    • thomasbrady said,

      December 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm


      Praise from you is never flattery…so I’m taking it, and putting it in the bank!



  12. Tyler Scott said,

    June 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    What the hell, why is everybody posting third rate poems as a response to this wonderful article analyzing a well noted critique of the propagation of third rate poetry? I don’t know the poetic academic crowd but I assume if it is as dull as other avenues of academia these days, then Wright is probably onto something, regardless of tact. For now, I stay away from that crowd. I write and I write and as far as democratizing the art, I am for it as long as people write and write as perpetually as I do but the collegiate field is too kind to many amateurs who ought be told to take a hike, though I have been in need of a hike in my earlier years as well. In summary, I do adore the idea of academia but it needs to be shaken with ferocity on occasion to purify it, if you really love it.

    • thomasbrady said,

      June 9, 2013 at 1:16 am


      I find it interesting that on another Scarriet thread, the latest one on the Poetry Assessor, a similar debate rages: amateur v professional. I am going to see what Kearney’s poem scores…


  13. thomasbrady said,

    June 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    “Carnal” by Meg Kearney gets a score of 3.15 from the Poetry Assessor. That’s a very high, ‘professional’ score. Just by comparison, Anne Sexton’s “Her Kind” gets a minus score (thus it’s an amateur poem). So there, Franz Wright. Kearney’s a highly professional poet. A professional meter says so. According to the Poetry Assessor, you need to apologize to Meg Kearney.

  14. June 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! chop those heads Franz! don’t let anyone get away!


  15. Anonymous said,

    June 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Lol@Diane Seuss. she must be back in town from wandering the Taliban highway between Afghanistan and Pakistan singing
    Love Is All You Need. can’t you just see her in her sandals and burning incense, smiling like some lost in space cadet.its as if she posts from a prepared script. you got no Originality bitch! you’re predictable in every and all ways!

  16. June 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    fuck it. if Franz wants nothing to do with the invite, I’ll come. what kind of beer is available around there? are there many girls there with great athletic looking legs and asses? is there a train that whistles in the wee hours of the night…passing by somewhere in the distance, waking you
    from another nightmare of not being being able to run and here comes
    Atila? you know, shit like that eh. where the fuck is Pine Minor anyway? never heard of the joint.


    • Anonymous said,

      June 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Mack the Knife? Really?

      Pine Manor was supposedly called “Pine Mattress” by Harvard men…

  17. thomasbrady said,

    May 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm


    You’re a cog
    That no gap embraces

    With all due respect to Marcus Bales, shouldn’t this be

    You’re a cog
    No gap embraces

    That ‘that’ sticks out like a sore thumb.

    But it was good to revisit this thread. I forgot about “BFF School of Poetry”

  18. hipsabad said,

    June 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Rhythmically it doesn’t stand out. i think it’s meant to mirror the Cole Porter song, “You’re the Top”

  19. thomasbrady said,

    June 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm



    Bales, you’ve been found out!

    Lifting from Cole Porter!

    What could be more wrong than a poet stealing from a song?

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